Regulatory assessment of drug dissolution profiles comparability via maximum deviation

Kathrin Moellenhoff, Holger Dette*, Evangelos Kotzagiorgis, Stanislas Volgushev, Olivier Collignon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In drug development, comparability of dissolution profiles of 2 different formulations is usually assessed using the similarity factor f2. In practice, the drug dissolution profiles are deemed similar if the f2 exceeds 50, which occurs when a 10% maximum difference in the mean percentage of the dissolved drug at each time point between test and reference formulation is obtained. According to the Guideline on the Investigation of Bioequivalence (CPMP/EWP/QWP/1401/98 Rev. 1/ Corr **) use of the f2 is however restricted by a set of validity conditions. If some of these conditions are not satisfied, the f2 is not considered suitable, and alternative statistical methods are needed. In this article, we propose an inferential framework based on the maximum deviation between curves to test the comparability of drug dissolution profiles. The new methodology is applicable regardless whether the validity criteria of the f2 are met or not. Contrary to the f2, this approach also integrates the variability of the measurements over time and not only their average. To benchmark our method, we performed simulations informed by 3 real case studies provided by the European Medicines Agency and extracted from dossiers submitted to the Centralised Procedure for Marketing Authorisation Application. In the scenarios of the simulation study, the new method controlled its type I error rate when the maximum deviation was greater than the similarity acceptance limit of 10%. The power exceeded 80% for small values of the maximum deviation, while the test was more conservative for intermediate ones. Our results were also very robust to sampling variations. Based on these positive findings, we encourage applicants to consider the new maximum deviation–based method as a valid alternative to the f2, especially when the validity criteria of the latter are not met.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2968-2981
Number of pages14
JournalStatistics in Medicine
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2018


  • bioequivalence
  • comparison of dissolution profiles
  • equivalence testing
  • maximum deviation


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